Category Management:  A Real-Life Case Study


I was looking through some client files  for some examples to send to a multi-billion dollar multi-national client who is looking to “future-proof” their competencies.  I came across this example from another client (ABC) that I ended up sending and thought it was worth discussing with all of you because it lays out a clear path ABC followed to a very successful initiative.

The ABC executive  first communicated his business objectives:

  • Support the aggressive growth objectives for ABC
  • Focus on improving Quality, Delivery and Cost (in that order)
  • Build strong relationships with suppliers (their growth was totally dependent on their suppliers)
  • Develop competencies and share market knowledge with Stakeholders
  • Ensure Purchasing & Supply Management (P&SM) was directly contributing to top AND bottom line results

The CPO launched his initiative by declaring the Competency Program as a top strategic priority for his organization realizing that achieving ALL his other business objectives depended on this priority:

Identified as a Top Strategic Priority for P&SM

  • Identified the required competencies for a world class P&SM organization
  • Gap identification done
  • Developed an ABC common, mandatory and comprehensive competence program for all job families within P&SM
  • Integrated in the Personal Development process
  • Curriculum Developed

I want to underscore the message here:  The Competency Program was identified as the enabler of ALL the business objectives.  That is a powerful message for his organization and their Stakeholders!

He then laid out some Principles to ensure that everyone understood where he stood on this program because he was making a significant investment (financial AND political):

  • The competency programme  is a common, mandatory initiative within ABC
  • It targets the functional AND  stratgic competencies and skills that are identified that a world class purchasing organization needs to master
  • Covers ALL the job families, ALL levels and from basic to advanced
  • The initiative is an integrated part of the PBP process and will be used in the overall evaluation process of ALL employees

We then led the effort to evaluate their current AND future needs and helped him identify what the required competencies were for P&SM:

To become a world class organization, P&SM need to excel in the following 10 Functional AND Strategic competencies

  1. Change management
  2. Problem solving
  3. Project management
  4. Business & Enterprise knowledge
  5. Supply Chain management
  6. Collaboration
  7. Strategic Sourcing
  8. Supplier development
  9. Supplier relationship management
  10. Negotiation and contracting

We then helped him identify all the different job families he had to facilitate the identification of specific gaps by job family so that programs could be tailored by job family.  Even more importantly, it helped hm track progress by job family and hold his managers accountable.

“Job families” have been identified, each one will have a tailored “ideal” program – of course movements within are facilitated

Job Family 1 : Executives, Directors

Job Family 2 : Purchasing/Commodity Managers

Job Family 3 : Supplier Development Managers (All Engineers)

Job Family 4 : Purchasing Professional

Job Family 5 : Supplier Development Professional

Job Family 6 : P&SM all Business Support Professional positions, controllers, analysts, administration

His organization consisted of over 250 people spread across the globe and a large number of them were engineers who were directly involved with suppliers.

And then he showed his level of commitment and support by encouraging them to invest their time and effort into the program:

The average program length is spread over 18 months and equivalent to 1 day /month.

  • Basic training will be conducted at site to facilitate attendance
  • Several E-learning modules can be taken at your convenience
  • From advance level, networking is encouraged so off site training is considered
  • Emphasis on applying new gained skills between courses

This goes to show you that Competency Development programs can be very successful if the leader is ready and willing to make a commitment.  Are you one of those leaders :-)?


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